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What after Class X?

The results of the High School Leaving Certificate (HSLC) examination of the Board of Secondary Education, Assam

Class X

Sentinel Digital Desk

The results of the High School Leaving Certificate (HSLC) examination of the Board of Secondary Education, Assam (SEBA) have been declared, with the overall success rate standing at 93.10 per cent. Looking into the details, one will find that while 4,26,553 candidates had applied for appearing in the HSLC (Class X final) examination in 2021, as many as 3,97,132 candidates have been declared as passed. Of them again, while 88,521 candidates have secured the first division, 1,60,298 have secured the second division and 1,48,313 examinees have secured the third division. While the results this year have been different because no examination could be held due to the Assam Assembly elections which preceded the renewed surge of the Covid-19 pandemic, the authorities however must take the blame for failing to hold the examination just before the Assembly election. What is most interesting is that the number of successful female candidates has outnumbered the number of successful male candidates; among the successful candidates, 2,12,721 are females and 1,84,411 are males. The Assam High Madrasa final examination results have been also declared simultaneously with the HSLC examination result. Of the 12,275 candidates who had applied for the Assam High Madrasa examination, altogether 11,438 have been declared as passed. Thus, putting the number of successful candidates of the two equivalent examinations, it is seen that as many as 4,08,570 students have passed the crucial examination of their life and are heading for higher education. But then the question arises as to where will all these more than four lakh students now get admission for the next phase of their education? Presuming that exactly four lakh students want to enrol themselves in educational institutions after passing the Class X stage, are there adequate numbers of seats available to accommodate all of them in Assam? The Government of Assam has from this academic year shut down the plus-two stage classes in Cotton University, JB College (Jorhat) and North Lakhimpur College. This means 1,500 to 2,000 seats have been abolished, and that too in three highly reputed institutions of the state. Even as students and their parents are worried about getting admission in the Higher Secondary class, Assam Education Minister Ranoj Pegu has appealed to the students and their parents not to opt for admission into non-affiliated schools and junior colleges. According to the minister, while the general perception doing rounds was that more students would pass the HSLC examination this year, the mushroom growth of so-called junior colleges in the state was not a welcome sign. It has been seen that there has been a spurt in opening so-called junior colleges in certain districts like Nagaon, Dibrugarh, Jorhat and Bajali. The Education Minister has rightly observed that the sole purpose of such junior colleges is to cash in on the extra rush of students for admission in Class XI. Several junior colleges meanwhile have been accorded government sanction and recognition from this year with an effort to amalgamate them with nearby high schools. This way the government should be able to attract students to government-run institutions where the fee is nominal. What the Education Minister must also appreciate is that pushing the entire four lakh students into the higher secondary class is not the right solution. Education should not be just for the sake of acquiring certificates and degrees. The aim of education, especially in Assam, should be to shape young people into employable persons. One can take the example of jobs in the railways and banks. How much the All Assam Students' Union and other such organizations may protest against the selection of "outsiders" in railway and bank jobs in Assam, the reality is that the large majority of candidates from the state are less employable in comparison to the "outsiders" because they cannot compete well. In states like Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal etc, young high school pass-outs are also oriented towards becoming employable in various sectors including in such Central government organizations like Railways which have large annual in-take of employees. While one immediate solution could be to introduce a crash course for increasing the employability of the state young high school pass-outs, another thing that the Education Minister can probably do is to introduce a subject that will help the students get oriented towards taking competitive examinations – be they for the recruitment of 'gangmen' in the railways, clerks in banks and various Central government organizations, or for the civil services. Education Minister Pegu can probably also suggest Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma open a couple of training institutions where specific training is provided for taking examinations for recruitment in the railways, banks, various central government organizations and offices, paramilitary forces and defence forces, private sector industries, etc.

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